pattadakal monuments karnataka

Following the Chalukya dynasty: Aihole and Pattadakal

A few days back, it was again a weekend and I was desperately waiting to go somewhere, very soon someone stuck me with the idea of going to Bagalkot district in North Karnataka. This region is known by the Chalukya dynasty which ruled during 6th to 12th century. Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal were their capital cities over different periods of time. From Chennai, it was a bit far for a weekend. But still, with few of my colleagues, I was on the road again.

Started the weekend little earlier, the journey would take around 15- 17 hours. Reached Bangalore by 9.30 PM and immediately boarded the bus to Badami.

Almost reached Badami when woke up next day. The bus dropped us in the main street, in front of the bus terminal. While I was enquiring about the bus to our first destination, Aihole, an auto-rickshaw driver came over and told that he will take us to the places we wanted.

Aihole travel

So again, I was in an auto-rickshaw. Aihole is around 35 km from Badami, so plenty to see during the long ride. Vast farmlands and the sandstone mountains beyond it, farmers dressed in white, their oxen and the funky decorated tractors blessed my eyes on the way. Though the auto drivers, in general, are annoying sometimes, I will forget everything when we break the line between and begin to share stories. The same thing happened this time also.

Aihole

When the Chalukya kings ruled this north Karnataka region, Aihole was their first capital and an important centre for trade during the same period. It is now a small village with few families and 125 temples which date back to 5th century. Aihole is known as the “cradle of Indian rock architecture”.

Aihole Monuments Karnataka

Out of the is temples, Archaeological Survey of India restored few of them and others can be still seen through the tin roofings of houses in the village. Villagers put clothes to dry on their walls, children running around the sanctums playing and cattle resting on the side. Most of the temples are abandoned now. They were destroyed during the wars. These ruins are nothing new or a matter of curiosity to the people here. Everything is so casual and all these monuments beholding a great history are their part of life since birth.

The ASI is taking very good care of the temples. The museum inside holds a big collection of antiques excavated from here.

Aihole monuments karnataka
Aihole

As soon as I walked out of the compound, a lady came towards with a big basket and a big smile. Very soon, I ended up having a small pot of lassi from her basket even though both of us didn’t have any idea what we are talking each other.The lassi was fresh and natural.

Pattadakal

Pattadakal was the next destination, another 14 km ride towards Badami side. It was another capital of the Chalukyas, located on the banks of Malaprabha river. The coronation ceremony of the kings was held here. The kings who ruled here over the time encouraged many architectural experiments, constructed many temples in and around Pattadakal. Temples inspired by both South Indian and North Indian architecture styles can be seen here in the same compound. 

The Chalukya kings, whose main income was from agriculture was not able to meet the expense for the construction later. So many of the structures are incomplete. Other temples became nonfunctional after the enemy invasions. During the time of the attacks, people covered temples completely with mud to hid, one such is the only functional temple in the Pattadakal complex. These huge rock cut structures standing straight even after 1000 years admits the knowledge our ancestors possessed in architecture and mathematics. Now the temple complex is a UNESCO world heritage site.

pattadakal temples
Pattadakal temple complex

This climate here is generally hot, you definitely have to be under the hot sun. But that doesn’t gonna bother when you become more adhered to this place. The life of the people here is tough. We can observe and learn many lessons of survival and struggle. I felt that this hardship has equipped these people to approach life in a much simpler way. Encountered many innocent smiling faces here. I still remember the old man who runs a small restaurant, lovingly filled my plate with jowar rotis. When my stomach was full, I did a lot of actions with hands to stop him putting rotis in my plate.

On the way back to Badami, our driver gave us an idea for the next day. He asked us to trek to Mahakuta, 6 km by walk from Badami. Our plan was to spend the next day completely in Badami. But now we had one more thing to do; so cut short the sleep and start the trek early morning.

We reached Badami by nightfall, the city was different from the morning. It was the day before Holi festival and this small city was also getting ready for the celebration. There were more people in the streets. There were many food stalls on the roadside. Small groups of boys roamed the streets with drums. They collected donations from the shops for the celebrations. The tractors which I saw in the fields during the day are now on the road with people. They had big speakers on it and playing Kannada movie songs, loud. A walk through the city was inevitable for me.

That was the end of the first day and six hours later, woke up to another beautiful day.

Read Travel guide to Aihole and Badami

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42 thoughts on “Following the Chalukya dynasty: Aihole and Pattadakal

    1. Thanks Lucy,
      Glad that you liked the post. Find time visit these monuments on your trip to India, these will be a different experience for you and also give good insight into India’s history.

    1. Thanks, Hannah…
      This trip was an amazing experience. India is very vast and diverse, travelling inside India itself is a dream for people like me.

    1. Thanks…Am glad that you liked the post about. Even though the auto rickshaw drivers are annoying, they are really helpful sometimes.

  1. Had not heard of these sites before but they are really beautiful and impressive. Speaking of which, am impressed with your dedication to travelling so many hours to visit somewhere like this on your weekend, what a journey!

    1. Thanks Kavey,
      Though it took some time to reach this place, felt very satisfied once I started to explore here.

    1. Thanks Megan,
      Since you are interested in history, this place will be a great experience. Visit on your next trip to India.

  2. What a beautiful place. It breaks my heart when I go to places where you know that people endure a lot just to survive. And the story of the man in the restaurant filling your plate is a lovely one.
    I also get that itch to go somewhere new when the weekend rolls around, I’m glad that I’m not the only one!

    1. Thanks Catherine,
      Am glad that you liked the post. The unexpected incidents and experiences are the main factors that drive us to travel more. All the best for your travel ventures.

    1. Hello Sherianne,
      The temple complex of Pattadakal is very beautiful. They are the best examples of the amazing temple architectural styles existed in India about 7th century.

  3. The temples look great and it sounds like you had more than enough food nearby. We would like to go here and check out the temples. There are so many UNESCO world heritage sites around the world it is hard to know where to go next.

  4. Gorgeous temples; they were worth the long long journey to reach! It looks like you had the place to yourself. Would love to go here someday!

    1. Thanks Lara,
      Glad that you liked the post. Yes, it is true, after every long journey, there are always some good stories to tell.

  5. I didn’t know about Aihole as a cultural heritage and of great significance! Also, the architecture of the temple is magnificent! Looks like you had an amazing trip!

    1. Hello Ana..
      I had a wonderful time exploring these heritage sites. These places are less touristy, hence less visited by tourists. But are amazing places.

  6. So you do a 15 to 17 hour journey for a weekend visit? Very impressed. I’ve done my share of out of the way places but this seems like a pilgrimage almost.

    1. Hello Tom,
      Travelling 17 hours was a bit tough but this place is amazing. The distance I travelled was really worth it.

  7. Lovely photos! The temples look so impressive! I like your description of the sights and sounds of Badami too – it really helps me imagine that I am there!

  8. That’s dedication, travelling for 17h for a weekend break, but I understand why – the temples look stunning! It was very interesting to read more about the history and culture too. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Thanks Sina,
      I was thinking about visiting this places for a long time and one day I just went there. Even though travel was a bit long, it was a great experience for me.

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